Vet tech, family man and desert rocker John Garcia is ready to paint Australia Gold

John Garcia is often pigeonholed as the singer of Kyuss (aka the godfather of desert rock, aka stoner rock pioneer), but there are many sides to the man from Coachella Valley, California.  He’s a husband, a father, a veterinary technician and he’s half Hispanic.  Nevertheless, he’s not worried.  “It’s something that I’m proud of,” Garcia says.  “I’ll always be known as the singer of that band.”  Garcia has fond memories of Kyuss, but he left that in his youth to form bands like Vista Chino, Unida, Slo Burn and Hermano.  He’s also got The Band Of Gold on the go, which consists of guitarist Ehren Groban, bassist Mike Pygmie and drummer Greg Saenz.  They played on his acoustic tour of Australia in 2018 and released their self-titled album last year.  Now they’re ready to unleash the new music on Australia when they tour from January 23 to 28.  “From the first time I was over there with Ehren, Mike and Greg, we hadn’t written a record together,” he says.  “This time we have John Garcia & The Band Of Gold and we’re going to be playing a good part of that record… we’re going to be playing some Hermano, some Slo Burn and of course we’ll be playing some Kyuss.  We’re all really excited.”  He says when the band do play Kyuss, they make it their own.  “When you hear a song like Whitewater, they’ve made it their own and you can tell because the end piece is totally different from the original composition.  We have to make them our own, so that’s what they do.  All of them show it an incredible amount of respect.”

As well as sharing the new music with Australia, he’s eager to soak up the live vibe again.  “There’s a reason that whenever my agent offers me Australia, I always jump at the chance …  I love the environment, the people, I love the food and I love the reception.  And people will still buy tickets to come see us play and we’re certainly appreciative of that.  Garcia says while the last tour was supposed to be lowkey, shit still got wild.  “The last tour that Ehren and I were on was only an acoustic one and it was just fucking wild; absolutely wild.  People went crazy, nuts.  They’d just come on stage.  The Aussies like to have a good time and you guys can get pretty wild and crazy get on stage, get in my face, scream at the top of your lungs, so Aussies are well known for absolutely showing us an incredible amount of welcoming.”

Garcia is still about the fun but these days he is also more meticulous about planning and looking after himself and his family.  “I grew up.  It’s not just the party.  I love the singing; I love to be on stage with my band and I love to perform. (I care) a lot more about the logistics, and I can’t do it, honestly, because it’s fun anymore.  It’s not feasible.  It’s got to make sense in every way.  I’m not making millions of dollars doing it but the flipside of the coin, I’m not doing it for the money either.  If I was in it for the money, I would’ve quit a long time ago.  It has to make sense and my family and my normal job and The Band of Gold’s family and their wives and their jobs.  It’s gotta make sense in every single way, so … I have to start planning these tours a year in advance.  But it’s worth it. Its only 90 minutes a night; it’s worth it.”

When he’s not spending time with his wife and kids, he’s a vet tech – helping animals and helping end their suffering.  For him, the bushfires in Australia have been particularly hard to watch.  “When a disaster hits like what’s going on in your country, it’s tough to watch and it’s tough to see pictures.  But it’s everywhere and you certainly hope for the best and you hope that countries from around the world will come down and help fight these fires …  When you look at that disaster, over a billion animals have been burned alive.  It’s hard to image that on such a grand scale and how does that make you feel?  It’s bad.  It’s absolutely a horrific thing.  If I help put down one to five animals a day that I know their quality of life is gone, and it’s done humanely – and it’s always done humanely – I’m able to detach myself from that, from being in the exam room and being there with the clients and my doctor.  I’m able to detach myself emotionally from that situation.  But on this scale, that’s hard to do.  I hope it pisses down rain.  It’s not gonna rain on our parade.  I’m not there to get a tan.  There’s not a lot we can do while we’re working down there … I hope it rains like a motherfucker to be quite honest with you, because the animals and the people in your country need some help.  If people want to come and sit in Melbourne or Adelaide or Brisbane or Byron and detach themselves from what’s been going on, it’s only for 90 minutes.”

Moving from the sombre topic for a moment, Garcia says he wants to get another record out with his label Napalm.  “It’s coming along but it’s coming along slowly.  I don’t think this is the type of band that just shits out a record every year, because it’s tough.  You’ve got kids and you’ve got families; you’ve got wives, you’ve got jobs.  These days it’s especially hard.  All of our time is dedicated to our jobs and our families and then each other, so whenever we have a little bit of spare time, which is not very often, we get in that room.”  He says he might even explore his Hispanic heritage on this record.  “I am one half Hispanic, and I love Spanish harp.  Spanish harp is an amazing instrument and to be able to incorporate some Spanish harp into some music, that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and maybe this next record we might be able to do something like that?  As far as singing in Spanish, I don’t speak much of it at all.  The Hispanic population (in California) is pretty large.  It used to be the minority; now it’s the majority and we’re incredibly lucky with the awesome food.  That’s one thing we’re not missing in California is Mexican restaurants.  We’re proud of it.”  It was clear from an early age that John Garcia was a desert man through and through – it’s just that what he does there now is more than just music.  “I love the desert.  I wouldn’t think of living anywhere else.  I couldn’t.” 

John Garcia & The Band Of Gold tour Australia January 23 – 28.

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